How neuroengineering is helping people fight addiction in Houston

Tuesday, September 21, 2021
How neuroengineering is helping people fight addiction in Houston
Julia Soloman said she had her first drink at 14, then got addicted to drugs when her Lyme Disease resurfaced at the age of 17. Doctors are now helping her fight addiction using brain mapping. ABC13's Chauncy Glover studied how it works.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Doctors at the J. Flowers Health Institute say they can fix your brain fog, and even more significantly, your addictions by combining neuroscience and medicine with technology.

Neuroengineering is known to fix the deficiencies in your brain. Right now, Houston is the only city in the country where you can get free-standing brain-mapping used by NASA, professional athletes, CEOs and Olympians.

People with brain injuries, kids with severe autism and even those battling addiction are finding hope.

"Even just having a conversation with you, looking you in the eyes, is something that I never would have been able to do six years ago," said Julia Soloman.

Looking at the 30-year-old, one would never know Soloman spent more than a decade struggling with addiction.

"I guess my first drink was actually at 14," she said. "Toward the end, it was a lot of stimulants, so cocaine and Adderall."

Soloman also told ABC13 anchor Chauncy Glover she lived the typical "goody two shoes" life growing up. However, at 17 years old, her Lyme Disease resurfaced and doctors gave her OxyContin for the pain.

"Within two weeks of being prescribed it, I was crushing it up and snorting it off the back of the toilet at work, which is disgusting, and it made perfect sense at the time," Soloman said.

She spiraled out of control, and at 21, she did her first stint in rehab. That started Soloman's cycle of being in and out of treatment programs, constantly relapsing.

"I wasn't ready. My brain just was not functioning at a level that would allow me to stay sober," she said.

Soloman's brain is where her parents tapped into for help. Karen Odell-Barber, the chairman of neurologics, took her case.

"Her family was tremendously worried about her ... that she would overdose or die," said Odell-Barber.

Soloman underwent brain mapping in Houston at J. Flowers Health Institute.

"I want to help people from an addiction standpoint and from a mental health standpoint, so that they don't end up like my family did," said James Flowers, the founder of the institute.

For Flowers, it's personal.

"I had a sister who died of addiction, who fell off of an eight-story balcony, high on cocaine. She had been in 19 treatment centers and was not successful because no one ever really took the time to understand what her comorbid diagnoses were," said Flowers.

That's why Flowers uses neurologics. It combines neuroscience and medicine with technology to bring mapping.

Technicians use a cap and attach it to your scalp to capture the impulses of your brain. After a two-hour drill testing a person's memory and learning more, a report is generated, highlighting the areas of dysfunction.

"When I got my brain map back, it showed that I had just had zero impulse control. When I was under stress, my IQ decreased by 50 points, so when I was feeling stressed, in those moments where you're about to drink or use, I just was not functioning properly. I wasn't able to make good decisions," said Soloman.

But through neuroengineering, which fixes the problems in your brain through months of hands-on training and drills, Soloman was able to get her IQ up during stressful times. In turn, this helps her make better decisions when it comes to drugs and alcohol.

"Being able to produce that kind of evidence and hand it to somebody, it's powerful in a different way," said Odell-Barber.

The sessions are about 50 minutes long, and it could take up to four months for your brain to return to peak performance. For someone with a traumatic brain injury, it could take six months, and 12 months for children with severe autism.

"I wouldn't trade my life right now for the world," said Soloman.

She's six years sober and has somewhat become the poster child for brain mapping and neuroengineering.

She graduated college with a degree in illustrations and is now in Los Angeles making movie posters. She said she now wants to help others battle their addictions.

"I've seen it help so many people, and it sounds like magic when you talk about it. I think we're at a point now where science can really help addicts," she said.

ABC13's Chauncy Glover also took the test. Doctors found some dysfunction in his short-term memory, which doctors said may be linked to the fact he had COVID-19.

Glover beat the virus in March 2020 and lost his sense of smell for weeks. Glover started his neuroengineering optimization and is expected to give an update in November.

For updates on this story, follow Chauncy Glover on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.